George Ellsworth ‘Mackey’ Garner

George Ellsworth “Mackey” Garner, 94, passed away Saturday, April 17, at his home in Martinsburg. Born in Altoona on July 8, 1926, he was the son of the late George T. and Dorothy (Hall) Garner.

He was the widower of Janet (Hess) Garner, who preceded him in death on Nov. 23, 1987. Mackey is survived by his son, Carl; siblings, LaRue Rudasill Gutshall and Violet (“Jeanne”) Kekic; granddaughter, Gale Garner; grandson, Aaron Garner and wife Michelle; and great-grandchildren: Ryan, Nathan and Rebecca. In addition, Mackey was preceded in death by a beloved friend, Hilda Wills.

Mackey graduated from Altoona High School and then promptly enlisted in the Navy on June 7, 1944. As a World War II veteran, he served aboard the USS Crocket in the Pacific. His tour took him to the Philippines, Okinawa, Guam, Japan, Saipan, Marshall Islands and other stops as well. Through his service and dedication to his country, Mackey earned the American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. Soon after his discharge from the Navy, he married Janet Hess of Entriken.

Mackey’s lifelong profession was the butcher business. He was introduced to the butcher business at the age of 13. Through his hard work, he reached the goal of owning his own business. He opened and operated Garner’s Meats located at Third Avenue and 17th Street from 1963 until his retirement in 1987. His establishment was the last slaughterhouse to operate within the city limits of Altoona.

Mackey excelled in many sports. He was inducted into the Blair County Bowlers Hall of Fame in 2005. As an accomplished baseball player, he was offered a baseball contract by the major league Philadelphia Athletics. He was also invited for a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The tryout was held at Forbes Field under the tutelage of Honus Wagner. He impressed the scouts enough to be invited back again but soon enlisted in the Navy instead.

As a sports enthusiast, Mackey was an avid Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers fan. In particular, he was a loyal and dedicated fan of Terry Bradshaw. Mackey purchased a country and western album that Bradshaw had made during the 1970s. He took this particular album to a “meet and greet” event hosted by Terry Bradshaw. Terry spotted the album Mackey was holding and offered to autograph it, but to Bradshaw’s surprise, Mackey quipped, “I don’t want your autograph, I want a refund.” Bradshaw’s reaction was unfettered laughter and genuine surprise as the two bonded immediately.

He was a member of New Hope Baptist Church, Duncansville, the Bavarian Aid Society and the VFW.

Mackey was a member of Logan Lodge 490, F & AM; a member of Jaffa Shrine, where he belonged to the Oriental Band and then the String Band, where he was often seen as the man with the top hat and cane dancing on the top of the float as it made its way through the parade procession. He was a past president of the Mid-Atlantic Shrine Oriental Band Association; a member of the Jaffa Road Runners, making innumerable trips across Pennsylvania to the Shriners Hospitals for Children; and a member of Chief Logan Forest 131, Tall Cedars of Lebanon.

He was an officer and member of the Golden Nuggets and member of the Horseshoe Senior dance clubs.

Mackey’s family would especially like to thank his hospice nurses and caregivers.

Friends and family will be received from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 22, 2021, at Myers-Somers Funeral Inc., 501 Sixth Ave., Altoona, where a Masonic funeral service will be held at 7 p.m., and from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, April 23, 2021, at St. Matthews United Church of Christ, Entriken, followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. with Pastor Doug Pilot officiating.

Interment will be held at Entriken Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations please be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children, in care of Jaffa Shrine, P.O. Box 1984, Altoona, PA 16603-1984.